“[He] Who enters as a Pope, leaves as a Cardinal,” were the words of an EU diplomat as the Osaka G20 leaders’ plan to have the Party of European Socialists Spitzenkandidat, Frans Timmermans, as the head of the European Commission fell apart at the pre-Summit of leaders from the European People’s Party (EPP) family.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel left the EPP pre-Summit early for her meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, while the rest of the EPP leaders moved to go against the idea of having a Commission president who is a Socialist.
The EPP leaders, apart from Merkel, said that the party was not happy about the Timmermans plan, with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar saying that there was a lot of opposition to Merkel’s decision to push for a Socialist.
“As the EPP, we haven’t agreed to the package that was negotiated in Osaka,” Varadkar said at the Europa building doorstep. Speaking to journalists ahead of the Summit, he said that “the vast majority of the prime ministers don’t believe that we should give up the presidency of the commission quite so easily and without a fight. And secondly, a lot of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe are opposed to Timmermans.”
Outgoing European Parliament President Antonio Tajani says it would be “impossible” for the EPP to back a Socialist candidate, while Social Democrat Peter Pellegrini of Slovakia informed journalists he is sticking with the Visegrad 4 position that strongly opposed the Timmermans candidacy.
“The proposal that is being circulated in the media has no support at the level of the heads of state or government and the entire presidency of the EPP,” said Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, taking the Osaka proposal out of the table. “I expect long, hard and complicated negotiations,” added Plenkovic.